MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – There are obvious signs that the Grand Strand is bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic: crowded beaches, long lines at Myrtle Beach International Airport and lengthy wait times at local restaurants, just to name a few.
However, for the first time “Visit Myrtle Beach” was Tripadvisor’s most-searched destination in the U.S. in June, according to Karen Riordan, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s the first time Myrtle Beach has occupied the No. 1 spot, she said.
“We’re working hard to build back from everything that happened last year,” Riordan told the Horry County Administration Committee Tuesday afternoon. “We’re starting to see a very strong surge in tourism.”
Riordan outlined the chamber’s fiscal-year 2022 budget before committee members sent a resolution to county council recommending that $1.2 million in tourism funding be directed to the chamber as part of an ongoing contract approved by the county and the chamber in 2018.
The chamber plans to spend $36,697 on print media, $513,763 on online media, $366,974 on broadcast media, $150,000 to promote local communities, $125,000 to promote local campground and $62,759 on county-directed expenditures that includes $40,000 to promote the Myrtle Beach Bowl college football game in December.
The game, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 21, at Brooks Stadium on the campus of Coastal Carolina University, is a big opportunity to promote the Grand Strand because it will be the only college football game that day to air on ESPN, Riordan said.
“We’re thrilled with how things went in 2020 despite the problems associated with COVID,” she said. “It’s a fantastic thing for our community.”
Currently, Riordan said the chamber is targeting 50 television markets in different parts of the U.S. to promote the Grand Strand, with an emphasis on the region’s 60 miles of coastline. The chamber is also creating advertising across multiple platforms to highlight local communities and events across Horry County.
“We’re trying to be very active,” Riordan said. “We’re trying to be very event driven.”
Various business sectors of the tourism industry generated billions of dollars in gross annual sales in Horry County in 2020, according to chamber statistics. They include $842 million in lodging, 1.29 billion in restaurants, $3.04 billion in retail sales, $958 million at supermarkets, $543.9 million at gas stations, $150.5 million in amusements and $33.6 million at golf and country clubs.